Product Placements in Kdramas

We’ve all seen them so many times before.
The product placements in K-dramas (and other dramas as well).

The latest wave of product placements include the new Samsung phone for example.
The sportdrink (forgot the name) and Subway are also seemingly in every other drama.

My questions:

  • Do you find them annoying?
  • Have you ever been tempted to try a product because of these product placements?

Funny enough, I was able to test one of those new Dyson hairdryers today and the salesperson asked me if I’ve ever heard of them before. I couldn’t help but laugh and thought “I’ve seen them too many times.”

I can’t say I’ve been tempted to try the Dyson because of Kdramas, because I was already aware of them (and wanted to try them - didn’t buy it though) before I was bombarded with product placement.

I was tempted to try the instant coffee from Shopping King Louie - but decided against it and went for a tea instead :relieved:


Sometimes they are annoying, sometimes they are funny and sometimes I wanted to try it as well.
Like I sometimes see them drink Heineken and although I find beer disgusting I’m like hey they drink Dutch beer! Hahaha.

When I was in Korea I was addicted to the binggrae melon and banana milk. The melon one you don’t see a lot in Kdrama but the banana milk you see in almost every Kdrama. They always drink it with a straw which I only got once while I bought one like every day at the small convenience stores and it always makes me laugh :joy: The banana milk of Alpro Soya tastes similar but still I miss that melon milk…

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Hahaha, I occasionally drink beer and I don’t like Heineken. There are better Dutch beers :joy:
Now I wonder if Koreans have the same things - why do foreigners like this or that product? It’s not even good! :joy:

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Subway product placement seems to be particularly aggressive. On some series it seems someone is eating a Subway sandwich in every episode. I live one mile from a Subway franchise (run by a nice Korean family) but the sandwiches are too big for me to finish by myself so I rarely go to get a sandwich there.


I really hate them because most of the time they don’t make any sense.
Sometimes they incorporate them cleverly - like the men’s face cream in Hwayugi- or it’s just shown fleetingly, like that omni-present brand of bottled water - but most of the time it’s really glaring.
In “Birth of a beauty”, was it? there was a whole scene which was completely irrelevant to the plot, and it was there only to advertise a kitchen appliance - I don’t remember which.
In Wok of Love/Greasy Melo, all these characters are cooks and they suddenly crave to go eat Subway sandwiches.
Or the poor girl has a full array of beauty products on her dresser, I mean the FULL range of this cosmetics brand - probably even those of other skin types, LOL, otherwise they couldn’t be like ten bottles and five or six jars!
If she puts a skin mask or cream or other products, not only they show the brand insistently in close-up when she holds it in her hand, but she tells her friend how good it is, and how refreshed she will feel afterwards.
Or they go buy a bag, and it’s not enough that they show the shop, the bag, and the character buying it - up to there it would be acceptable - but the character also has to sing the praises of the bags.
On “17 but 30” it was phones and cameras. The Samsung phone wasn’t bad, the character waved a wand and instructed the phone to take a picture, it was fun. But at the end, he suddenly gets the urge to take a picture, and he happily instructs them that the camera will take a burst of shots. And we see the Canon logo too many times. I mean, okay, we got it, we’re not blind.

I cringe. It destroys the flow of the story, and the immersion. It reminds you that those characters are actors and that the drama is out to make money. Of course you knew all this at the back of your mind, but while you’re watching you want to be transported, to suspend disbelief, to immerse yourself and to concentrate on their cute, funny and sad tribulations, love them, hate them, believe they are real at least while you’re watching. And the less subtle product placements destroy that.
I understand that they need the sponsors, but they should do it more discreetly.
I get so annoyed that I make it a point to NEVER buy the advertised product. The more insistently it’s hammered, the more I think “ah, it needs so much promotion because it probably doesn’t sell enough on its own”. Unless I already know about it. I mean, if they promoted Tupperware on k-dramas (highly unlikely!) I wouldn’t stop buying Tupperware because of that, 'cause I’ve known them forever and - unless you cut them up or put them on a hot stove - they last forever.


Yes they are, so much so, that I expect to be in every drama I watch :expressionless:

Yeah, you are right. It makes sense for office workers, students, etc. to get Subway, but don’t kitchens usually assign someone to make lunch for that day? (a friend of mine works as a chef) I can’t image them going to a Subway, when they have better options that are probably cheaper :pensive:

I completely agree with @irmar about the beauty products - they really come off as marketing plots. I remember watching a historical drama where one of the characters got a tooth ache and someone advised her to use this new inventive cream that gets rid of that pain for you (some sort of toothache). That was so unexpected, that it was comical. I could something like that. But in most of the cases, even with face masks, most of the characters take the face masks off straight away or when they put a product on, f.e. moisturizer, they use on squirt and dab it on (I don’t use that little).

And the scene you pointed on in 17 but 30, also really stood out to me :relaxed:

I don’t think I would never by a product that they advertise, but I wouldn’t actively seek them out either. Unless the product is already on my ‘research list’, then I wouldn’t really bother.


While I was in Korea I saw [quote=“irmar, post:5, topic:20676”]
that omni-present brand of bottled water
[/quote] (if we think about the same brand here) and actually bought it, because it was also a 1+1 and I was curious. I thought it’s plain water though. In the ende I didn’t like the taste ^^
But after all I just buy what I wanted to buy anyway, only the brand may vary due to curiosity.

Most of the time I just laugh about the obvious product placements. They are sometimes weird and over the top, yet the idea is smart and it’s often less annoying than common advertisement. I wish though there’d be some site to lookup the clothes of characters :sweat_smile:


I prefer the PPL above the commercial breaks every 10-15 minutes. Last time my dad timed a commercial break on TV. It lasted like 8 minutes! And here when a program airs for an hour it’s 40-45 min program and 20-15 min commercial breaks.
And then sometimes the program itself contains some PPL but not so much as the rules are quite strict.

The only pro for commercial breaks is that you can go to the toilet and get some snacks etc.


I tried some of the sport drinks during a SK festival here in US, and they were horrible tasting! I won’t mention the name but they gave us so many and we had to throw them away because no one could drink them.

I go to Ulta beauty stores, and sometimes find beauty products that I see in Korean dramas. I bought a few of them, and I am very happy with the results.Ulta has a lot of korean products and their prices are reasonable, but I mainly buy them when they go on sale (which is often).

I find the face mask there for a dollar! and when you go to Target, Macys, or other big stores the face masks are very expensive. I recommend you shop around before you pay a lot.

My daughter bought the big funny looking hair rollers you see in kdramas/Chinese dramas too, but they didn’t work on our hair. If anything it pulled our hair and we followed the instructions (plus, we saw the actress how she easily rolled them up) lol

The only Korean tea we try at home are the ones made with Ginger and they sell them at the 99cent store by BJ’s supermarket (a small version of a mall). The kimchi from korea is the only one I will ever eat, all others are nasty but from SK I stuff myself bc is that good. I also find the seaweed from SK delicious, but the japanese seaweed has a horrible after taste, so I make sure it says is from Korea.

I love my area bc you can find polish, mexican, dominican, Korean, japanese and even products from India! Is good to taste other countries food but some products are a waste of money. So far, Japanese products are my least favorites bc they use too much salt and some flavors I can’t tolerate them.

I tried Japanese Bento box and I only liked the spring rolls, everything else went to the garbage with half a bite bc the flavor doesn’t appeal to me. Most things were raw or i was allergic to them.

A warning in regards to cosmetics and beauty creams, my daughter tried one (it cost a lot) and it gave her bad acne. She was horrified and won’t try the creams ( only the mask and rice cream work for her).

I don’t try anything from Mexico bc they contain harmful chemicals but that’s another story. Just be careful when trying a new product from other countries, do your research.

Many years back my friend tried a chinese diet tea and she almost die from it. And here in US a man and woman bought some roots for tea from China and they both died. To this day, I never found out what killed them.

So being cautious is really important when it comes to products we see in any dramas.

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So I’m not crazy! Seaweed is still not my favorite but I also noticed a difference.
The very first time I tried Sushi, many years ago I hated the seaweed, first time I tried miso soup with lots of seaweed (never expected miso soup to have that much seaweed) I couldn’t stand the smell and hated it. So every time I went to a Japanese restaurant I picked dishes without seaweed or a very little amount. First time I tried Gimbap I overal liked it and the seaweed soup I got on the plane to Korea and in Korea itself was pretty tasty too.



Yes, the seaweed from Korea has a great delicious taste, and compliments many dishes. But the miso soup from Japan, I can’t stand the taste or smell. The seaweed from Japan taste like a hard cardboard with no taste.

My teenage grandson loves Japanese food and suggest dishes and stuff to me, but so far i dislike everything that i tried from Japan (sorry) but SK food, dishes, have better taste and I knew I wsn’t the only one who noticed the difference in taste.

My daughter loves kimchi but only if is from S Korea. I pay more, but is all worth it. It’s also good for some stomach issues.

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This is a great topic. Product placements always make me laugh. Besides Subway, Papa John’s is the other big product placement. The funny thing about it is that these are American brands.

They are usually annoying, but every once in a while you come upon a product placement that was well written into the script. I was just watching Ghost Detective. That subway scene had me bursting out in laughter and crying all at once. Has anyone noticed other good product placements?


I also watch Ghost detective but can’t recall that episode. You remember what episode was that in? I would like to see it, too. Thanks in advance.

PS. I saw recently a drama from Japan (not here on Rviki), the scene was made in a BURGER KING! I didn’t know BK was there, too. Anyway, the guy ordered and as he opened the wrapper it said shrimp and crab (it looked like chicken though). They make shrimp and crab in Japan’s BK franchise.

I’m from Puerto Rico, and I went back in 2013 to Burger King, and they served ‘‘tostones’’ which are green fried plantains.with barbeque wings, no less! I ordered them just bc I was so curious, and didn’t like them at all. I even have tons of pics bc I found it so amusing.

Have you encountered something similar?

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I think it was around Episode 8. I can’t describe it too much cause it would be a spoiler, but it was a good scene.

I live in the US now, but am originally from Asia. I can honestly say that Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC are better outside the US. :joy: It sounds silly but I like to try McDonald’s whenever I travel abroad cause the menu items are really different. There’s Ginger Pork Burger in Japan’s McDonald’s, Egg Tarts in lots of KFC’s. In Singapore and Malaysia’s McDonald’s, they used to serve spaghetti and Nasi Lenamk (Coconut Rice). I didn’t realize the McDonald’s in Puerto Rico would have different stuff too. They should bring that to the mainland. The menus here are boring.


I don’t know about where you live @angelight313_168, but @dudie here in the Netherlands the quality of the Japanese seaweed they sell is bad. I think most of the ones you find in supermarkets are horrible. I usually go to specialty shops to get (okay-)quality seaweed from Japan. I once had a onigiri workshop from a sushi chef from Japan and the seaweed he used in the workshop was absolutely delicious! Everyone was so surprised at how good it tasted, that we wanted to buy some from him. As for other seaweeds, if I can buy them fresh, I will :slight_smile:

Yes, you are right. Most of the very obvious PPLs are from American brands. I would also like to know other scenes where PPL was used effectively :smile:

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I think it’s interessting that everyone talks about seaweed without distinguishing between Nori/Kim and Wakame/Miyeok, which come from different kinds of plants actually, just like apples and pears :slight_smile: Of course that doesn’t change which variety you like or not as long as you compare the same kind of seaweed to eachother

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I assumed that was the case since @dudie mentioned sushi vs. gimbap :wink:

@ stained_rose

Thanks, I will check episode 8 now.

The subway sandwich is my area is so small is not worth buying them.

I believe when you say they are better in other countries bc I saw a k-drama scene where they had KFC chicken and that chicken looked perfect. I won’t eat KFC in US is disgustingly greasy and tasteless.

The menus in the fast food chains are boring, and we hardly go to those fast food places unless I have no other choice (I don’t feel like cooking bc I feel sick or too tire).

Wendy’s in Puerto Rico taste so different and so fresh and the one’s here in US are not that good in my opinion.

I live close by many of this fast food chains but we hardly go to them bc they are nasty either too greasy, undercooked or overcooked. So many ppl are getting sick with E.coli that we don’t take that chance.

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The seaweed I’m talking about are the very small square that come in a small package. They are roasted and have different flavors like wasabi or barbeque taste.

I can’t eat sushi and never have bc I’m allergic to seafood so that’s not the seaweed (plant) I’m talking about.

The seaweed product I bought from Japan was small and had wasabi flavor but it taste like cardboard bc it was too hard and I didn’t taste the wasabi on the seaweed. The Korean seaweed, is softer and you can feel the wasabi kicking in.

This would be me too. So funny

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The Korean flavored seaweed is called Gim / Kim. That one is usually coated in sesame oil and other flavors and is roasted.

Kim = kankoku nori, roasted, coated in sesame oil
Nori = ajitsuke nori, toasted, often flavored with soy sauce.

Oil is flavor :wink:

I’m allergic to seafood as well, but not fish, so I love fish and vegetable sushi. I always have to get special made sushi from the chef when replacing the seafood options :smile:

Anyways, back to the topic. I was reading this article on PPLs

and I remembered the PPL of the Wonderbra in Because this is my first life, and I remember liking the way they incorporated it into the story line. It wasn’t just about selling the bra’s, but they made the whole story about how bra’s can be super-uncomfortable for certain people and the struggle of finding good bra’s with one of the characters, that I actually liked it. Especially when compared to a PPL-heavy drama like DOTS.